In Mel Brooks’s world beautiful women get to be hysterically funny. Not the butt of the joke, and not punished for being beautiful and sexy either. (Hello, Ginger Grant.) Even Cloris Leachman’s hatchet-faced crones were allowed a bit of backstory.
Btw, ‘blucher’ is not German for ‘glue’. Truth is nobody knows why the horses scream at her name except that it’s funny.
Which brings me neatly to the meat the of the thing – I’m funny.
“No, duh, LA. You think we come here for the recipes?”
Shut it, you. I’m being sincere. This figuring out of ownership has lead down some interesting avenues. Lately I’ve been unpicking my resistance to letting my funny flag fly.
#1 – Fear of displeasing, thus angering men. Pffft! Thanks to middle-aged-woman stealth technology I can disappear at will so I feel a lot safer than I used to. Double-plus bonus: my husband thinks I’m hilarious. We get the sillies all the time, one of the best bluchers in a good and lasting marriage is laughing together. When you can’t (or won’t) crack each other up anymore your relationship is in trouble.
#2 – Being funny is trashy. Wow, thanks, Mom. Nice going with the classist bullcrap. My mother had a phobia about ever being lumped in with our working class neighbors. Volume was a marker. Can’t be classy if you’re brassy. Loud = Bawdy = Hoarse whiskey laugh = So on until ‘madam of a New Orleans whorehouse’ – a crummy one with a tone-deaf piano player and corn shuck mattresses. Loud was bad. Being constantly shhh-ed was an attempt at staving off blowsiness.
Though at 6 I was getting my snark on too. Imagine being sliced down ala Dorothy Parker by a first grader with a lisp and braided pigtails. Roasted by Cindy Brady. Neither of my parents appreciated they’d birthed a raconteur and did their best to slap me out of it. My da because my humor challenged his authority and my dim mother knew she was being mocked even if she didn’t get it.
#3 – I will look foolish. Oh honey, that ship went over the horizon ages ago. Never did get the hang of ‘normal’. Ach, that used to sting, always being ‘off’. Gosh, normal seemed like such a safe and peaceful place, “Hey, did you see LA today?” “I know, right? She is so normal!” The thing is you’re always going to stumble into tribal trip-lines because ‘normal’ is an ever-shifting perspective.
*Speaking of looking foolish – my clothing is styled around comfort still with a hefty slug of personality/politics, but mostly comfort these days. After decades of it I so wearied of people reading me wrong despite a carefully curated outside identifying me as ‘a meat-eating Leftie feminist earth goddess artistic individual’ that I gave up many of the more strident identifiers of being unique. Because ageing keeps upping the ante when it comes to message dressing. To maintain my cool kid cred I know by now I’d be in gold lame Hammer pants worn with mukluks, and a vest made of bottle caps, dyed porcupine quills and sun-cured goat scrotums. Being weird in your 50’s takes too much thought and effort. I’ll be over here in the droopy sweater and plain black leggings being boring, mainstream, and oh so comfortable.
#4 – People expect you to be ‘on’ all the time. I know this from bitter experience. So far I’ve fired a chiropractor, changed hygienists at the dentist, and run through FIVE therapists because of this. Really, what kind of mental health counselor insists their patient be amusing? One actually said, “Come on, LA! I count on you to brighten up my day!” WHAT? Did the person I am paying out of pocket to help me with my issues just chide me for not being amusing enough? (I gave up B&N runs to afford you! I sacrificed books, you cow!) What the actual fuck, lady?
Nowadays I try to curb my whimsy with medicos so they stick to taking care of me. Had a good time at Monday’s well visit though. My PA is terrific. Whip-smart, perceptive, and a good listener. (I must also say she’s gorgeous. And caught in the same damn trap I used to be in that gorgeous women aren’t allowed to be smart and funny too.) Monday’s physical was the starting line for a promise I made myself back in November that after my birthday this year I would Do All The Things! I left the office with appointments and prescriptions for all the glorious fun that comes with middle-age. Cameras! In my gut and up my butt! X-rays! Ultrasounds! MRIs! With and without contrast! I’ll be handing over so much body fluid I’ll be a one-woman Tarantino film. Being good to myself involves more than the occasional popcorn and Oreo dinner. It means getting my teeth cleaned and my cervix swabbed. And it’s meant finally getting serious about being funny.
I don’t want my humor to go to waste. I think about Carrie Fisher and how her podcast would have been AWESOME. But she’s not here. I’m no Carrie Fisher. I don’t have to be. All I have to be is me…and not get in my own way. Something I excel at. Self-sabotage. Sometimes I’ve let myself down so badly it makes me furious. I’m working on letting go of my fear and it is brutal to excavate down through all the layers of elegant and convincing arguments about why I didn’t do this thing or that until I get to the quivering mess of truth at the bottom – PAIN. I hate it. The idea I’d deliberately invite pain is horrifying. And haven’t I paid my dues? Why set myself up for the rampant misogyny – the threats of rape and death and the rest of the putrid output from the incels, ammosexuals, and holy rollers? Why take on the shit-storm of being funny while female? And OMG the especial Hell reserved for uppity chicks with opinions on the internet? Why, LA?
Because letting myself down again is worse.
I have some very specific goals with firm deadlines, insofar as I know until we get our taxes done. Big changes this year and I fret over owing. We’ll know on the 12th. After that we’ll adjust accordingly. (We did. We owe. Oh woe.) Once the necessary electronics are in place I become a podcaster. Looking forward to learning the editing tools. Why speak when I can just keep writing? Because I have quite a bit to discuss with everybody and there’s an intimacy to being alone with someone via ear buds. There’s a particular cant I want to capture, the one you’re hearing now inside your head.
“OMG! You sound just like I thought you would!” Favorite-est compliment ever.
Can I get the voice in my head to come out of my mouth on the reg? Especially when you can’t see my waved hands and facial expressions? I’m going to find out. The coming year is brewing a bruiser. Nobody’s coming out unbloodied. And a soft landing spot amongst all the shouty pointy places will be a good thing.
Please re-read the previous paragraph. It took almost half an hour to write. I edit as I go and it took all that time to carve off the qualifiers. I backtracked and replaced the squishy ‘maybes’ with ‘will’ and ‘am’. The time for hesitancy is over. All people of good conscience must come out loudly for decency. We must demand accountability from those we hired to office and insist they explain their actions.
Also we must remember (or learn) how to be okay with one another.
We have to face the truth: The Death Eaters are running the Ministry. And might for another four years. Ugly, dangerous, short-sighted, cruel ignorance will be making policy, and the rankest, lowest, most vile gloating from the Trumpers is going to make what I’m proposing a real challenge.
We need to stop arguing.
You cannot prove anything to a Trump fanatic. Might as well try discussing spreadsheets with a meth-head. Nobody is home. So stop already. Yes, I know it’s maddening. But it’s done. There isn’t one single thing we can do to stop any of this rooting and looting of our government until November. Of course we want to step back from this filth to not only point out all the crimes and outrages, but to assure ourselves and others that we are NOT complicit. But arguing with those smacked out of their gourds on the joy of being as stupid and ugly-souled as they are IN PUBLIC and have their messiah act the same damn way, nope. Go beat your head against a wall.
You want to help? Don’t neg out arguing with some Faux News zombie…volunteer to be a poll watcher. This is where the real crime is going down. They ARE going to steal this election if we let them. Go now and help people register. Assure them our elections haven’t been completely corrupted at the ballot box. Be there. Hang around outside and do exits polls. Make sure they know we are watching. That the world is watching.
Until then, let us support one another. Do not allow discord to grow. Work through grudges by venting to a trusted friend and then letting that mess go. Try not to be scared or feel rejected when your overtures are met with hostility or a blank look. I greet everybody as I go about my rounds. Occasionally I’ll get a run of people who ignore me and instead of brooding about it and deciding people are shit and not worth the effort I turn it around, I’ll dash up to a co-worker and say, “Can you see me?” “Uh, yeah. Why?” “Okay, the last 10 people I said hello to didn’t answer and I thought maybe I’d become invisible.” We laugh. My hurtsy feelings are assuaged. Co-worker has a chuckle. Life carries on.
“My mercy exceeds my anger” – basically every holy writ since ever.
My love always, ~LA